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Insight: Where is it all going for Carlos Sainz in Formula 1?
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Aug 2017   |  12:19 pm GMT  |  189 comments

“If one answer, said in the heat of the moment, is spinning out of control, then that is modern times”

Carlos Sainz is still living with the consequences of his statement that it is ‘unlikely’ that he will stay at Toro Rosso for a fourth season in 2018, said in Austria last month.

Today, speaking to he has said that “My one and only ambition is to be a Red Bull driver in the future.”

Well he had to say that, one could argue.

Because in the interim there has been robust defensiveness from Helmut Marko and a tough line from Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner that, “We’ve exercised his option as well, so he’s under contract. He’ll be in a Toro Rosso again next year.

“He only got an opportunity in F1 because of Red Bull investing in him in the junior years, and it’s a little disingenuous to be making comments like that. Without Red Bull he wouldn’t be sitting in an F1 car.”

However there was also the suggestion from Austrian colleagues during the Silverstone GP weekend that Sainz has been told by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko that he is free to leave if he pays back the money it cost Red Bull to bring him to F1.

If that means what they spent on him in junior categories then it’s in the €4 to 5m range. Amortised over a three year contract with another team, like Renault, that would be €1.5m a year off the top of his salary, which would make quite a dent in the salary of a driver on that level.

Sainz says today in that “(it wasn’t nice) Helmut Marko and Christian Horner going against me, but sometimes it happens in F1.” It is possible to come back from a moment like this.

Sainz says he has eyes only for Red Bull, but this is all about hedging bets.

On Red Bull’s side they are hedging their bets against either Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen moving on in 2019. Neither is able to move until the end of 2018 at the earliest. And if it were Ricciardo who left, then Red Bull would have a problem as the Sainz/Verstappen pairing was toxic at Toro Rosso and was instrumental in Verstappen being promoted to Red Bull, along with interest in Verstappen from Ferrari and also the catastrophic start crash in Sochi of Daniil Kvyat.

The chemistry between the Dads was part of the problem at the time and although Carlos Sr is still seen at almost every event, Verstappen Sr is not such a frequent visitor, even if his presence is still felt.

We’ve been around this block before. Sainz had an opportunity of a Renault drive last autumn, but it was blocked by Marko taking up the option. Sainz, stuck in a holding pattern could be forgiven for feeling that his career isn’t progressing as he had hoped. New blood is coming in and there are some quick young drivers like Ocon, Leclerc, Norris lining up to fill seats in the coming years. Sainz needs to progress, much as Sergio Perez needs to progress now that he is a more complete driver than in his ill fated McLaren year.

Sainz feels he has done enough to earn a faster car and a crack at podiums, but instead he’s stuck in the waiting room. This year he has driven with a rage, which may be informed by that sense of being on hold and which has worked for him on some occasions very well. It’s also led him into some difficult moments.

Red Bull has to cover it’s bases and also think to the future. It’s had a great run in developing young drivers and bringing them on to win races without having had to pay them huge salaries on the way. But Kvyat appears to have plateaued and the pipeline of next generation drivers doesn’t look too great now.

It costs $30m a year to hire Lewis Hamilton and Vettel now commands the same, but he was on a fraction of that when he was winning his four world titles with Red Bull.

And Ricciardo and Verstappen, while not poor, are not paid close to what Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel get. Yet they are top line F1 drivers, who would win races and championships if the car was a bit faster.

What do you think? What should Sainz do next? Leave your comment in the section below

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I think that I have a hunch for what to expect. Carlos Sainz is his father’s son. And, therein lies the rub. His father was never cut from the same cloth as any F-1 driver. Neither is his son. The Sainz men are cut from their own cloth, much different than the F-1 cloth. I see the future holding the highest accolades for Carlos Sainz, maybe even more than for his father. But, his strength, and his destiny, is not in F-1. Let’s celebrate that fact. Cheers, Carlos.


sainz should have stop taking advice from alonso the moment he got into f1 afterall alonso’s choices are public knowledge..sainz stands to exit f1 faster than alonso. it’s the teams’ market right now because of the sudden influx of young talen due to the lewis hamilton effect on motorsport as a whole…all wanting top spots with only 10 teams…teams are generally not worried about bringing in teanagers after verstappen’s demonstration so sainz should hush, keep his head down and just drive that car and hope for an opening….if he keeps disstablising his team by crashing into his teammate he’ll soon close the door behind him at redbull because redbull owes kvyat for giving up his seat for the team sensation and owe sainz nothing. nothing!


‘Lewis Hamilton Effect’ ?
– Aveli

OMG somebody is already suffering from F1 abstinence.


why is it that many fall to their knees in prayer at the sight of the words “the lewis hamilton effect”?


Congratulations Aveli!
You’ve invented ‘The Lewis Hamilton Effect’.
You should run for the Nobel Prize… the Q is in which category: Physics or Literature {Fiction}.


The ‘Lewis Hamilton Effect’ sounds like title for a B Grade telemovie whereby supernatural forces combine to frustrate a particular person from winning motor races and the hero comes back into play after getting assistance from a second rate source under his controllers influence ! Still i rise.


you become amazingly creative at the site of those words..


What the hell is the “Lewis Hamilton effect”? What Verstappen has demonstrated is that being fast doesn’t get points (or win championships), you also need to stay out of accidents (especially with your team mate) and not break the machinery. A complete package is required and to date a “teenager” hasn’t demonstrated that.


lewis hamilton has had a huge effect on f1 if you weren’t aware. because of hamilton, soft pirelli tyres, kers and drs were introduced to help other drivers have a go at what hamilton demonstrated in 2006-2008.
an increased number of boys and parents were motivated to have a go at becoming racing drivers.
the lewis hamilton effect was so profound that a book of his life story was published before the end of his f1 rookie season andvyou ask what the lewis hamilton effect is?


One mistake he made this year. What are you even talking about. Other crashes where the fault of Bottas for example.

4 races the RBR did broke down on him. While Ricciardo was driving behind him. It has nothing to do with Max. But if you think slower is better. Be my guest.


I don’t know why people keep arguing that dnf excuse has nothing to do with VER, I mean, he is driving the car right, so maybe, just maybe he is doing something wrong when he drives the car that make its fail more than RIC’s car?

Why is that RIC has the exact same car and run the exact same circuits during same days and his car its not failing that much? I know and accept that RB has fail to provide a good car this season (and the season before and so on) and of course could be something they are doing wrong on max’s car,,,, but taking all the responsability of max’s shoulders and say that if he wasn’t dnf then he would be in front of RIC in the points table… its just lame…

stop the hype guys, I agree VER is one in a million, he will be champion and he might be one of the best drivers in the history… but its not yet, has a lot to learn and do to achieve it, and a certain percentage of he missing points this season is his fault.


when will verstappen become one of the best drivers in the world and which parameters are used to decide that?
from what i know, qualifying, overtaking, defending, race victories and championships are categories that can be used to determine drivers’ greatness… verstappen is excellent at all except victories and championships. vettel for example has the championships and victories but not as good as verstappen in the other areas. why is vettel described as one of the best and not verstappen?


Lewis Hamilton effect? Lol!


i laughed out loud and nothing happened..
what was meant to have happened?


No, when it comes to you aveli.. it’s Lots of Love…




what is “it” and when will it come to me?
how will “it” know where i am?

a lot of love for f1!


sainz should go to formula E and bring back JEV into toro rosso


Great choice for cover photography. Sainz outside looking in?




The overriding challenge Red Bull finds itself having to deal with now is, will it be worth the ugly tribulations of continuing to employ disgruntled drivers?
Nobody wants or needs unhappy, angry, self-centred people at the pointy end of a billion dollar Formula 1 team? Harmony and respect ensures the best results are achieved for a highly talented team.
Frustration is hard enough to deal with in employees minds but, when it morphs into feeling disgruntled, (and then fury – as we witnessed with Kvyat in May 2016), that person would be better far off working elsewhere and starting anew.

Daniel showed his true feelings regarding Verstappen in the heat of the moment at Hungary. Can’t say I blame him really! I’m convinced Dan feels betrayed by Marko and has been slowly simmering away inside at having to deal with the premature Verstappen move to the big boys team … meaning he didn’t get the chance to shine as there new No:1 driver for 5 mins after Seb left before they threw their next young lion into the ring to steal Dan’s well earned thunder.
They have broken the intended harmonious chain of well-paced progression by placing two prodigal sons on the one team at the same time. It’s obvious that it could only end it tears but, where too once the partnership fails and one leaves the nest?
It actually opens an even nastier couple of cans of worms.
Worm tin 1: If Verstappen is forced to remain under the claustrophobic terms of a strictly enforced contract, he will be extremely unhappy and continually expose that inner unrest via the media. (which Red Bull’s management despises – even though they excel at it when it suits their agenda!)
Worm tin 2: Sainz wants to move up to Red Bull but, as JA says, what if the seat is vacated by Daniel? With Sainz and Verstappen as team mates, we instantly step back into sordid memories of the mentally taxing abyss of Vettel (No:1driver) v Webber (No:2 driver).
It also creates powerful family friction off the track between the Poppa Bears which sullies the water even further.

In future, UTONIC CALM should be the sports-drink of choice on the negotiation table, instead of cans of RED BULL supercharging those already over-hyped egos and fuelling heated arguments!

My personal wish is for Daniel Ricciardo to finally grow wings, fly the coup at the end of 2018 and finish his career in the Scarlet saddle of an Italian prancing horse!

If all else fails … Red Bull will just have to suck it up and learn how to stagger the arrivals of their prodigies – therein lies the perfect way to quell the fury created by the frustration of being stuck in the “little sister” team.


@ jack….Well said there. i fully agree with your sentiments. Once Marko gives Daniel the ‘evil eye’ that’s it!!! Time to move on.


Hallelujah and Amen Jack!


Surely 2018 will be Raikkonen’s last year and Ricciardo is the logical replacement with his well proven speed, consistency and unmatched overtaking skill, plus he will be available and has Italian heritage. What that means for Vettel is the interesting part, can he handle the heat that Ricciardo will bring, this time? I seriously doubt that Vettel would allow Verstappen alongside even more so. But Hamilton may well chuck it in and then Vettel is a walk up for Mercedes. That may well leave 2 spots at Ferrari, with Ricciardo in #1 who is #2? The Ferrari junior drivers are far too inexperienced at F1, so that leaves Sainz. A Ricciardo & Sainz pairing at Ferrari would be hot, I like it.

To me Verstappen needs another year to mature, although he can be fast he makes too many mistakes, runs into his team mates and is demonstrably hard on the equipment. At this time he is simply not consistent enough for a Mercedes or Ferrari seat. What he does next year really determines his future, is he just the next Grossjean, fast but …………………..


Interesting read. However I came across something that probably most viewers aren’t aware of and surprised myself a bit as well: When running both cars at the same time RedBull only completed 247 laps this year (1st lap incidents with retirement count as 0). Of those 247 laps it was Verstappen that led the RedBulls for 185 against 62 for Ricciardo. If you don’t take the British GP in account (in which Ricciardo was hampered through quali-issues it’s still 134 against 62.

Out of all the GP’s so far Ricciardo has only led Verstappen at 3 GP’s: China, Bahrein (for 1 lap, through Verstappen’s brake issues) and Monaco (strategy call by the team). In China Ricciardo led Verstappen because of the pit windows.

So yes: Ricciardo is consistent and gets the points (which matters a lot), but with proven speed and unmatched overtaking skill I think Verstappen might be the better bet. We all know that Verstappen lags behind him in the standings, but also know that, that most of it was because of technical issues. If I was a Mercedes or Ferrari teamboss with a vacant seat to fill, I would surely prefer Verstappen at this point in time.


yes: Ricciardo is consistent and gets the points

and I think that’s it, neither teams or drivers get points for “maybe its better” or “can be faster”, you can argue whatever you want but if VES is behind RIC on points thats it.


You’re not taking into account that all DNF’s weren’t by VER own doing. That’s a tale that most people do take into account. Take last year: Nico won the WC, but I think most people would agree that Lewis is the better driver. Or maybe let’s take a look at 2015: Kvyat outscored Ricciardo over the whole season (meaning he was more consistent and got the points, if only by 2), still I would rate Ricciardo higher then Kvyat in that particular season.


and where can they take this “most rathed wdc” trophy you say?

com’on guys, VES will be a great driver and its not yet… just be patience like he needs to be, he is lacking consistency, whether its because his fault or dnf excuse…


An interesting statistic but basically useless, take Budapest for example. Verstappen qualifies in front of Ricciardo by a tiny margin, then makes a mistake off the start and Ricciardo goes past. Verstappen then makes another mistake whilst trying to recover and hits Ricciardo bursting his radiator. That’s 2 mistakes by Verstappen, the second of which takes out his team mate and also earns himself a 10 second penalty. Using your quoted statistics that’s a “win” for Verstappen but looking at it from a team perspective is a terrible “loss”, unforgivable in fact.


Well said Gary, the MVFC will point at any stat they can run through the abacus and disown any DNF’s, however there are a number of them that occurred as a result of him being putting the car in a dangerous position (inviting contact). His first corner 3 into 1’s win him a lot of fans, but also create a lot of contact.
After the Hungary incident he said that its his strategy to be an aggressive as possible on the first lap in order to gain as many positions as possible. Sure…but at what cost.


@ Gary…absolutely correct. Teams win WC’s for having the most points. How you actually get them is of secondary importance.


In those statistics that’s 0 laps where both RedBulls were driving, so that doesn’t count to inter team laps led by either driver.


Excellent read. Thanks Mr Allen


The article seems to have overlooked just how badly Ric is being beaten by the Verstappen kid, where could he go ?


Seems like the other way around to me;
4 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 117 points
6 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 67 points

Going really fast but having accidents and breaking the machinery whilst doing it compared to going really fast but not having accidents and not breaking the machinery. I know which one I would want in my team.

Verstappen could well be the next Grossjean, fast but missing the rest of the package that makes champions. As this year has proven, it’s too early to tell and teams know that.


Lol yeh he broke the cars. Sure. You must be joking. Max was driving in front of Ricciardo most of the times when his car broke down. But ofcourse you can blame it on Max. But i am sure the people with knowledge and inside information have a more realistic look on how Max compares to Daniel.


A lot of comparisons between Sai and Ver’s full season together using specific stats, but is should also be noted how close it was:

Q: Ver 10 to Sai 9 (but Sai was 20th on three occasions that season)

Races: Ver 5 to Sai 4 when both finished, but Sai had 7 DNFs to Ver 5 DNFs, some self inflicted like Monaco.


RBR are just doing their due diligence with Sainz. It might well be that they have to hold him in the TR for 2018, simply because one of Max or Ric could walk. Sainz is then next in line. What are his options elsewhere? Renault might be one, but are they going to be better than TR. If Alonso walks from McLaren, he could be a good fit there and hope for the sleeping giant to awaken. Merc and Ferrari seem to have their own proteges waiting in the wings. And is Sainz higher up on teams’ wish lists than Perez, for example. I’d give Sergio the edge and comes with all that sponsorship potential. Then there’s the possible return of Robert looming…

Sainz might be better off sitting tight for the possibility of a big shakeup in ’18. Then again, if Max and Ric extend and TR bombs with Honda, it would seem like the end of the road for Sainz. All of that is probably a large reason for his frustration this year.


Sainz may be very good – i don’t know – but a. he was beaten by Verstappen and b. young talent is coming up every year.
That means he will never get the nr 1 seat in a top team, he should aim for 2nd driver. But 2nd driver needs to be mature and Sainz is making too many errors at the moment. Best for Sainz seems to be a career path like Hulkenberg. Worst is the Vergne way.


Just suck it opening at other good teams in 2018 + high chance one of the RB senior drivers could leave 2019. Sometimes that is how life goes.


Why can’t red bull make toro rosso into another red bull A team it would make things much more interesting / fair and surely they have the funds.

Tornillo Amarillo

Sainz said to leave, RB was harsh,
then Sainz said to stay…
Not good this change for his career, he needs to be clear and learn more diplomatic skills.

Anyway, RB should FREE SAINZ as I said before, he is great and there is no room in RB.


It strikes me that with a drivers market as flooded as it is Carlos should keep his mouth shut or he’ll end up driving a electric powered milk float with the other red bull rejects.
Frank Williams I believe said build a fast car and the drivers come calling.
To give a further example, if Mercedes offered Alonso 1 million to drive for them if would.
I mean Bottas, a good driver, but not exactly someone most considered a world champion has beaten Hamilton fair and square a couple of times this year and when Hamilton be vettel take each other out later this season we could well see him leading the wdc……car or driver…..?


If money is the most important thing to him then he must stay. If better driving opportunities come his way and he wants to excel then he must pay back Red Bull and leave. David Coulthard often says that he drove for free and got paid for all of the promotional work. I suspect all true racers have the same ethos. Chances to excel in F1 are very rare. When I last checked the figures a few years ago for whole history of F1, only 1 in 8 drivers that makes the start grid goes on to win a grand prix. He has to pay up and leave.


Put Sainz in a Williams and we’ll find out how fast it can actually go.


Sainz is also suffering with this terrible gulf between Red Bull to the midfield.

Will McLaren ever improve to compete?
Will Renault ever improve to compete?
Will a Merc customer team, like WIlliams, EVER be able to win a race again?

It is such a gamble to move and still be miles behind that racing destroying Mercedes Works car.

Doubly worse that the top two teams don’t want internal racing between the likes of Seb V Sainz V Alonso V Lewis V Max, sounds like they want a fast and an slow “number 2” driver pairing up again in 2018, which is a shame.

Sainz to Ferrari, Kimi to replace Massa, Seb to have a challenge!


why is he trying to move to RB? RB hasnt produce and will not produce any time soon a winner car, he should stay in TR and shut up until get the chance to negotiate when his contract end, he is still young and has talent, and even more important HE STILL HAS A SIT IN F1 …. so I think he should keep that sit and keep driving and improving waiting to move out from that RB structure that certainly wouldn’t offer anything to him nor VER nor RIC nor anyone else..

what if there are so many young talents “so coming” to F1, where are they coming? next year most likely will be 1 or 2 sits open for new drivers, since ferrari, rb, williams, mercedes, haas, looks like had already take a decision on their pair,

which team is looking for drivers, who is disparate trying to get a “sainz like” driver? the options if there are any, are mclaren and sauber…. lol… renault and force india maybe… but there are plenty of options for them too.

in conclusion: shut your mouth kid.


What is not good is that the sons have grown up to the clouds!
One might ask, where are the best drivers?
Rosenqvist is one! Is any impressed?
Or is it all about money?


And how can you raise the one who comes last, to the clouds!
Ask Paddy, so sad! But if I’m saying something good, maybe Mercedes goes with money, another sad statement!
Get Felix! Best driver without a contract!


it all seem to rotate around word ‘stuck’ – and i mean all Redbull/Tororosso drivers and teams themselves – teams with regards of powerunits, drivers with any perspective/possible move – it’s all STUCK @ RedBull camp right now. unless they do up another team and do the own pu’s for 3 teams then


When Money Speaks!
Seems it’s a big defeat for F1, when world star’s sons come into F1!
Why do not those who fight against difficult odds get more chance?
For example, Felix Rosenqvist! He has defeated all the so-called “stars”!
Still he has not got a F1 chance! Not even a test! Why?
Is F1 more about old contacts and black money than about who are the best drivers?


Rosenqvist and Verstappen drove one season together in F3. Rosenqvist (with 2 seasons experience in F3) was nowhere. So I haven’t got a clue what you’re on about. Better check your facts.


Agree .. except Jos wasn’t exactly a ‘World Star’ … he was the Jolyon Palmer of his generation.


Not sure how you came to that conclusion. It was one of the most promising drivers. But with no or little backing he was unable to get a good seat.
Palmer brings a lot of money and less talent.


Yes and he seemed to spend much of his time behind the wheel beached in gravel traps as he did on the track itself.


RB has officially taken over as the team I most dislike. Another fine example of the atmosphere to drive for Red Bull under Marko, I for one will be glad when he is history. And also a great example of loose lips… perhaps young Sainz will think more about his comments.


Marko talks a lot or rubbish. I not an expert on German contract law but I’m pretty sure that it would be close to everywhere else… if Carlos met the requirements of his contract each year through his pre-F1 career, RBR have no claim on trying to re-coup the payments.
They would of course factor that expenditure into his transfer value.
This whole episode is just contract negotiation posturing. Carlos will be in a TR for 2018.
As for the rest of the driver line up… as usual, there will only be a couple of changes for 2018


Sorry, German law should be Austrian law. (I got lost for a minute)


Why German contract law? Afaik the team is based in the UK and the owner in Austria.

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